Twin Shadow live at London's Lexington
- Jan 31, 2011
This is not going to be enjoyable. I’m functioning on three hours sleep and running late, the venue is stiflingly hot with barely enough room to remove any of the five layers I donned for the icy conditions outside and thanks to a mistake by the promoter* I’ve just had to give up my last £10 before payday to gain entry. I am definitely not going to have fun.
It is not even thirty seconds into Twin Shadow’s eighties new-wave onslaught before I am reminded of how easily I fold and, more interestingly for you, how great this band are.
“Not much of a dancing town, huh?” This early observation by George Lewis Jr, aka Twin Shadow, belies the joyful effect of his music. By the time the set is in full swing not a person in the room is left motionless.
A concoction of bouncing basslines, sharp drumbeats and dreamy synth surround Lewis Jr’s purposefully delicate vocals. Upbeat tracks such as ‘At My Heels’ prove an impossibility not to shuffle to, while eerily heady numbers like ‘Castles In The Snow’ carelessly captivate.
With a thick crop of hair, hunched shoulders covered by an ill-fitting green shirt and bags of charisma Lewis Jr is face paint away from Heath Ledger’s Joker. Although with a better hold on his finances the Brooklyn singer opts to forgo the mass money burning ritual, instead pointing people in the direction of the merch stand. Now, if he could just show his promoter that trick with the pencil…
One noticeable flaw of the live performance is the loss of some subtleties present on slower tracks, such as the brilliant ‘Forget’, which suffers from an ill-advised sense of urgency.
There is an art to performing slower, understated songs live. Loiter on them for too long and you run the risk of looking like Bono, giving unwarranted airtime to faux-poignancies. Although tread too quickly and it might sound like Twista is in the Live Lounge covering your latest work. Luckily neither of these two became a reality, with Lewis Jr’s powerful yet controlled vocals going a long way to covering over any genuine criticisms.
Throughout the set orders are given and pace set by Dave Grohl circa 1991, or at least a drummer who would like to be him. In fairness he, along with the bass guitarist and keyboard player, provide solid support but it is in no doubt where all the talent is emanating from.
Every town is a dancing town when Twin Shadow are playing in it, they just don’t know it yet.
*The lovely folk at 4AD - Twin Shadow's excellent label - have now reimbursed this.